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April 9, 2003

Rod Paige Prefers Kids With “Strong Appreciation for the Values of the Christian Community”

Listed in: Separation of Church and State, NJDC News, Press Releases

Bush Education Secretary Prefers Kids With "Strong Appreciation for the Values of the Christian Community"

Washington, DC: According to an April 7th article published by the Baptist Press news service, Education Secretary Rod Paige is quoted as saying, "All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith. ...Where a child is taught that, there is a source of strength greater than themselves." The Baptist Press article continued, "As a Christian, Paige said the animosity to God in public school settings is puzzling. 'The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system,' he said. 'In a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values.'"

"It is astonishing that the nation's top educator would have so little respect for the religious and cultural diversity of our nation?s schoolchildren. But for those who are familiar with the Bush Administration's record on religious liberty and the separation of church and state that guarantees that freedom, such sentiments hardly come as a surprise," said National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "Our nation's public schools derive their great strength in part from the very diversity that Secretary Paige seems to consider such a burden. Christian values and teachings appropriately belong in Christian parochial schools, just as Jewish teachings belong in Jewish private schools, and Islamic education belongs in Islamic parochial schools. But an education is the birthright of every American child, regardless of race, ethnicity, or faith; America's public schools are for all of America's children. Exclusivist teachings and messages have no place in America's public schools, and America's top educator should know that."